A sign requirement for restaurants could get repealed; the Salt Lake International Airport could get four more bars; and Utah Jazz fans would — for the first time — be able to carry a beer from their VIP dinner into the arena, under a bill making its way through the Utah Legislature.
HB456 addresses a host of issues that have come up since 2017, when lawmakers passed a massive liquor-reform law, explained Rep. Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, the bill’s sponsor.
On Monday, Wilson’s 94-page “clean-up” proposal got it’s first hearing before the House Business and Labor Committee. Unlike most liquor-related bills, it sailed through with a unanimous 11-0 vote and no debate from the public or committee.
Among the tweaks being proposed
• Restaurants would no longer have to post signs that say: “This premise is licensed as a restaurant, not a bar.” Bars would still have to display a sign that “clearly states” it is a bar and “no one under 21 years of age is allowed.”
• The formula the state uses to determine how many liquor licenses are available at the airport would change to allow one license for every 1.75 million passengers, or 14 licenses. Currently, the state allows one for ever 2.5 million passengers, or 10 liquor licenses. With its new expansion “they want to have 14” licenses, Wilson told the committee.
• Creation of a new liquor license for arenas with a seating capacity of more than 9,000. Wilson said officials with the Vivint SmartHome Arena have asked for the new license category. It would, among other things, allow ticket-holders who attend pre-game meals inside the arena to be able to carry a beer from a dining area into the arena — something that currently is not allowed.
Proposed Utah Liquor law change would let restaurants take down signs that say they’re not bars
Feb. 23 • Utah restaurants may soon get to say bye-bye to those silly signs.
But bars may have to keep them, under HB456, a highly anticipated bill made public on Friday.
The signs were mandated as part of a massive liquor-reform law approved in 2017. Among many changes, the law modified Utah’s quirky alcohol-dispensing barrier requirements — aka the “Zion Curtain.”
HB456, sponsored by Rep. Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, would modify some of the provisions in the law and address concerns and problems that have arisen since it went into effect.
One of the more unusual liquor requirements was displaying signs that “clearly” state that a bar is a bar and not a restaurant — or that a restaurant is a restaurant and not a bar.
The signs, which had to be at least 8.5 by 11 inches and be posted in a “conspicuous location near the entrance,” have created ire among business owners and ridicule among customers.
Repeals the sign requirement for restaurants, but not bars; creates a speical liquor license for arenas; and makes technical changes to other state liquor laws. - Read full text
If HB456 is approved as initially written, the bill would repeal the requirement for restaurants, but not bars.
“We are grateful to get rid of the signs for restaurants,” said Michele Corigliano, executive director of the Salt Lake Area Restaurant Association.
She declined to comment on how other items in the bill might affect restaurants, as it is still early in the process.
“The basics are there, but there are still things to work on,” she said.. “Rep. Wilson has agreed to discuss the bill so we still expect things to be tweaked.”
HB456 also would create a new type of liquor license for arenas with a seating capacity of more than 9,000 that are primarily used for sports, concerts, plays and other public performances.
Among the other liquor changes proposed in HB456:
• It requires electronic age verification of certain individuals who are within 10 feet of a grandfathered bar structure.
• It clarifies labeling requirements for certain malted beverages.
• It allows a dining club licensee to convert to a full-service restaurant licensee or a bar before July 1, 2018.